Families' life-changing Korean War remembrance
WARWICK woman Tricia Wagener was a small child when her brother Claude was killed in Korea in 1952.
He was buried in Busan, South Korea and for years Mrs Wagener felt a great deal of frustration and anger over the fact his body had not been returned to Australia, to his home.
Last month however, all that changed.
Along with fellow Warwick resident Peter Siebenhausen, whose uncle Norman Siebenhausen was also killed in action in the war, Mrs Wagener visited South Korea in October as a guest of the Minister for Patriots and Veterans of Korea and the South Korean Government.
Only six Australians were selected for the trip and two of these were from Warwick.
Mrs Wagener said they were treated like royalty.
"It was an amazing week, so much more than I'd ever expected," she said.
"On the second day of the trip we were taken to the Pusan United Nations Cemetery. "It was like nothing I'd ever felt before."
Mrs Wagener said the family had always dreamed someone would get the chance to go to South Korea to see Claude's grave.
"Each family was given a basket of beautiful red roses," she said.
"When I walked to the grave and stood in front of it for the very first time, 64 years later, the feeling was completely overwhelming.
"I knew I would be affected but not to the extent I was."
Mrs Wagener said the gratitude for the Australians who lost their life in the Korean War was amazing.
"I felt like I left a piece of my family there," she said.
"For years I couldn't understand why Claude couldn't be brought home.
"But now I know he is where he should be.
"The fallen soldiers are so revered and the cemetery in Busan is about as beautiful as a cemetery could be."
Mrs Wagener said she only ever knew that her brother was killed in Korea and not much more.
"I learnt all about the history of the region and the battles and it put everything into perspective for me," she said. "We saw all the sights and were treated to the most incredible food.
"Absolutely everybody was so friendly and respectful.
"It was my first trip out of Australia and it was completely fascinating, all paid for by the Korean Government."
Peter Siebenhausen said his experience on the trip was very similar.
"It was just phenomenal," he said.
"I just can't portray the feelings I got over there.
"And the thanks from the Koreans was overwhelming, we couldn't have made this whole trip without them."
Mr Siebenhausen said the trip was an emotional rollercoaster.
"I never thought I would be affected the way I was," he said. "I never knew my uncle and my father didn't speak about him much. I went on this trip on behalf of my auntie.
"Not knowing Norman, this trip put into perspective the senselessness of war and the heartache it leaves behind."
Lance-Corporal Norman Albert Siebenhausen and Sergeant Thomas Claude Newman were the only two soldiers from the Southern Downs killed in action in the Korean War.
Since 1975 the Minister for Patriots and Veterans of Korea has bought over 30,000 United Nations veterans and families back to South Korea to commemmorate and be thanked for their service.